Actress and now activist Amber Heard has spoken out once again about her gripe and pains with revenge porn. In a column for the New York Times, Amber recounts some of her thoughts and feelings following what is now known as the ‘celebrity hack’.

In 2014, the actress was one of the celebrities who had their computers hacked and private photographs shared online across multiple social media sites. Hollywood stars including Rihanna, Jill Scott, Jennifer Lawrence and many other celebrities who are largely women were also targeted.

READ MORE: A woman shares how she found out her naked pictures were leaked online, plus, here’s how men trade explicit images of women on underground channels

Amber writes that more than 50 of her personal photos were stolen and released with some manipulated and accompanied by sexually explicit and degrading comments, lamenting the nature of the internet has resulted in a “torment [that] will never end”.

“I faced a flood of unwanted propositions and harassing messages. The hack jeopardised my physical safety, my career, my sense of self-worth and every relationship I have had or will have,” writes Amber.

“To this day, my private photos remain online and my tormentors remain unpunished.”

READ MORE: More than 92% of young girls have felt pressured to send nudes

She has since come out in support of the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act, known as the SHIELD Act, in the U.S., which could result in perpetrators being punishable to five years in prison. 

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently signed the Films and Publications Amendment Bill into law, which addresses hate speech, child pornography and revenge porn.

READ MORE: A woman shares how she found out her naked pictures were leaked online, plus, here’s how men trade explicit images of women on underground channels

The bill states that “any person who knowingly distributes private sexual photographs and films in any medium including through the internet, without prior consent of the individual or individuals and where the individual or individuals in the photographs or films is identified or identifiable in the said photographs and films, shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction”.

The penalty for this offense may include a fine up to R300 000 or imprisonment for up to four years or both a fine and imprisonment.

READ MORE: Local woman’s nudes leaked after she lost her phone

Women from multiple walks of life have either experienced being the targets of revenge porn or received threats of their explicit images being shared online. Some famous public figures have also spoken out about being targeted for revenge porn.

Poet and musician Ntsiki Mazwai recently opened up about someone who had been threatening to leak nude images of her. International celebrities including Blac Chyna, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West have been targeted as well.

Amber Heard herself has says she's been a victim on revenge porn multiple times and adds “no amount of power or privilege can protect you from it”.   

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According to Law For All, this latest addition to the law to address revenge porn in South Africa follows the likes of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Japan by criminalising the distribution of sexually explicit material without consent.

With the unlawful distribution of sexual images having been a global issue, writer Tyson Wray takes a look at how other countries are dealing with it.

USA: Like Australia, the U.S. is yet to introduce a federal law governing revenge porn - only 25 out of 50 states have laws at the moment.

Canada: Cyberbullying laws which previously only protected those under the age of 18 have been updated to protect all age groups from revenge porn. Nowadays it's a criminal offence which carries a jail term of up to five years.

READ MORE: More than 92% of young girls have felt pressured to send nudes

England and Wales: Sharing sexual images and videos on or offline without the subject's permission is a criminal offence and offenders can face up to two years in jail.

Israel: Posting revenge porn is a crime in Israel. Perpetrators are prosecuted as sex offenders and can face up to five years in prison if caught.

Japan: In a law introduced this year, distributing sexually explicit images or videos online is now punishable by up to three years in prison and can come with hefty fines of up to 500 000 yen.

Additional reporting by Tyson Wray/Magazine Features.

Sources: New York Times, Magazine Features, www.gov.za, Law For All

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